Backpacking the Arizona Trail, Day 4, Part II: Central Kaibab Plateau (Trans-Arizona/Utah Hike Day 11)

In the land of Arizona
Through desert heat or snow
Winds a trail for folks to follow
From Utah to Old Mexico

It’s the Arizona Trail
A pathway through the great Southwest
A diverse track through wood and stone
Your spirit it will test

Oh, sure you’ll sweat and blister
You’ll feel the miles every day
You’ll shiver at the loneliness
Your feet and seat will pay

But you’ll see moonlight on the borderlands
You’ll see stars on the Mogollon
You’ll feel the warmth of winter sun
And be thrilled straight through to bone

The aches and pains will fade away
You’ll feel renewed and whole
You’ll never be the same again
With Arizona in your soul

Along the Arizona Trail
A reverence and peace you’ll know
Through deserts, canyons, and mountains
From Utah to Old Mexico

“The Arizona Trail,” Dale R Shewalter

The trail continues through the burn scar of the 2006 Warm Fire, In between looking around at the aspens in the prior two posts, a crack opens in the tree line to the west. The first southbound view of Grand Canyon opens up in the distance.

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Hiking across the Warm Fire burn scar on the Arizona Trail
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Backpacking across the Kaibab Plateau on the Arizona Trail, the first view of Grand Canyon appears
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Backpacking across the Kaibab Plateau on the Arizona Trail, the first view of Grand Canyon appears
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest

I ultimately ran out of light in the burn scar left by the 2006 Warm Fire, and the breeze is howling again tonight. Hopefully it calms down a bit overnight. I’ve arranged my gear to make a windfence as best I can but without any substantial tree cover there’s not much that can be done. This might admittedly be a rough night. I don’t get “caught out” often but 30-50 mph wind gusts were not in the forecast when I started this trek, and most of my cold weather gear is back on the South Rim for evaluation where it will be needed from that point.

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Hiking through aspens in the Warm Fire burn area
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Backpacking through aspens in the Warm Fire burn area
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Hiking through aspens in the Warm Fire burn area
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Backpacking past aspens in the Warm Fire burn area
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Hiking past aspens in the Warm Fire burn area
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Backpacking past aspens and remnant ponderosa survivors in the Warm Fire burn area
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Hiking past aspens in the Warm Fire burn area
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Backpacking past aspens and remnant ponderosa survivors in the Warm Fire burn area
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Backpacking past aspens and remnant ponderosa survivors in the Warm Fire burn area
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Hiking past aspens and remnant ponderosa survivors in the Warm Fire burn area
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Backpacking past aspens and remnant ponderosa survivors in the Warm Fire burn area
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Hiking past aspens and remnant ponderosa survivors in the Warm Fire burn area
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Backpacking past aspens and remnant ponderosa survivors in the Warm Fire burn area
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Backpacking past aspens in the Warm Fire burn area
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Hiking past aspens and remnant ponderosa survivors in the Warm Fire burn area
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Backpacking past aspens in the Warm Fire burn area
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Fire and wind impacts evident in the 2006 Warm Fire burn scar.
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Backpacking past aspens and remnant ponderosa survivors in the Warm Fire burn area
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Hiking past aspens and remnant ponderosa survivors in the Warm Fire burn area
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Sunset on the central Kaibab Plateau
Arizona Trail, Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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To Thruhike or Section Hike, That is the Question

When many individuals are first looking at getting into thruhiking, they face one crucial decision after trail selection – to section hike, or thruhike. Each has different advantages and challenges, and may be better suited for one trail than another. Today, we’re going to discuss these. First, we need to define each. For our purposes, … Continue reading To Thruhike or Section Hike, That is the Question

Backpacking the Amazing Arizona Trail – Inspiration Point to Roosevelt Cemetery (Passages 20 & 19, Four Peaks to Superstition Mountains)

Backpacking the Arizona Trail’s Saddle Mountain Passage from near Saddle Mountain to Sycamore Creek at the start of the Pine Mountain passage. More magnificent Arizona mountain views of the central Mazatzal peaks and ridgelines, and a gorgeous Arizona sunset.

Logistics, trail journal, and magnificent mountain scenery.

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Arizona Trail Backpacking Logistics – AZT Gateway Communities: Tonto Basin

Backpacking the Arizona Trail’s Saddle Mountain Passage from near Saddle Mountain to Sycamore Creek at the start of the Pine Mountain passage. More magnificent Arizona mountain views of the central Mazatzal peaks and ridgelines, and a gorgeous Arizona sunset.

Logistics, trail journal, and magnificent mountain scenery.

Backpacking the Amazing Arizona Trail – Four Peaks South (Passage 20)

Backpacking the Arizona Trail’s Saddle Mountain Passage from near Saddle Mountain to Sycamore Creek at the start of the Pine Mountain passage. More magnificent Arizona mountain views of the central Mazatzal peaks and ridgelines, and a gorgeous Arizona sunset.

Logistics, trail journal, and magnificent mountain scenery.

Backpacking the Amazing Arizona Trail – Four Peaks North (Passage 20)

Backpacking the Arizona Trail’s Four Peaks Passage to just south of Pigeon Spring. The terrain is incredibly precipitous – in places the trail seems to occupy the only level ground around. Fire impacts are present throughout as well, a legacy of the 1996 Lone Fire. Magnificent views of Roosevelt Lake, the southern Mazatzal foothills, and the Sierra Ancha across Tonto Basin.

Logistics, trail journal, and magnificent mountain scenery.

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Passage 41 (Kaibab Plateau Central)
Trail SurfaceDirt trail
Length (Mi)17.2
SeasonSpring-fall. No vehicular access to this section December-April. Feet of snow in winter.
Potential Water SourcesWildlife Tank (mi 36.9 SOBO, 751.8 NOBO)
Cement Trough (mi 37.3 SOBO, 751.4 NOBO)
TrailheadsNorth: US-89A
South: Telephone Hill
Trailhead AccessVehicular access
WildernessNo, but it can feel like it. Most hikers in the area stick to the national park. Or are passing through to reach routes in the national park.
Possible resupply pointsJacob Lake
ATA-Rated DifficultyEasy
Potential campsites (mileages S to N)Various points throughout; terrain is not a limitation here
Ecosystems TraversedGreat Basin Subalpine Conifer Forest
Rocky Mountain Montane Conifer Woodland
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Great Basin Subalpine Conifer Forest/Rocky Mountain Montane Conifer Forest
Common Trees/Shrubs* Corkbark fir
* Gambel oak
* Quaking aspen
* White fir
* Blue spruce
* Engelmann spruce
* Buckwheats
* Currants
* Dwarf juniper
* Elderberry
* Fendler’s ceanothus
* Greenleaf Manzanita
* New Mexican locust
* Perry’s rabbitbrush
* Raspberry
* smooth sumac
* Snowberry
Common herbaceous plants* Bracken Fern
* Buckwheats
* Cinquefoils
* Columbines
* Fleabane daisies
* Geraniums
* goldeneye
* Goldenrods
* Groundsels
* Hairy golden aster
* Indian paintbrush
* Lotus
* Lupines
* Meadow-rue
* Parry’s bellflower
* Peavine
* Penstemons
* Puccoon
* Pussytoes
* Thistles
* Western & white prairie asters
* Wild strawberry
* Wormwood
* Yarrow
* Yellow hawkweed
Common succulentsPrickly pear, occasionally
Aquatic* Bulrush
* Buttercups
* Rushes
* Sedges
* Water plantains
Passage 23 & 22 Ecology (source: Arizona Trail Association AZT Guide & NatureServe). Only California and Texas are more diverse ecologically than Arizona.
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2 thoughts on “Backpacking the Arizona Trail, Day 4, Part II: Central Kaibab Plateau (Trans-Arizona/Utah Hike Day 11)

    1. Thanks! This was my first time experiencing the fall aspens. I was hoping for just some color and instead got pretty close to peak. It only got better over the next few days, too – and this wasn’t the only area I encountered both aspens and other fall colors on the trail, so stay tuned for even more!

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